Sometimes I get overwhelmed. This is only my 3rd entry in this blog (well, 2nd really) and I’m already about to write about writing a blog. This is not good. One of my favorite songwriters, Joe Henry, once said in an interview that when he caught himself writing songs about writing songs it was time to shelve what he was doing and start from a different place. I’m totally paraphrasing this, because I read the article several years back. Anyhow, this was a point in Joe Henry’s recording career when he changed his musical direction so completely that he really doesn’t play any of those old tunes anymore. We’re talkin’ like 4 albums’ worth of material! He seems to have disowned that part of his career, which is a shame. It’s some of the best music I’ve heard and it saved me from despairing over the whole alt-rock thing that was so rampant at the time. Joe Henry actually wrote something worth listening to, and had a great band (the Jayhawks) backing him up, to boot! My whole sense of music and guitar playing was evolving back in those days and one of the biggest catalysts was Joe Henry’s music (with Gary Louris’s guitar playing). But that’s not at all what I was writing about. I was writing about writing, wasn’t I? Where was I? Oh yeah, overwhelmed.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed. There’s a whole big bunch going thru my head these days – God is teaching me about many aspects of Christian living at once (being sacrificial, discipline, relying on Him to overcome sin, being a part of community, idolatry), and my brain feels full, saturated. It’s hard to explore these ideas deeply, as they are huge and there are so many of them, and it’s difficult to prioritize my study and meditation. This blog is a place for me to write about my exploration of these issues, but they are so deep and intertwined that I could write volumes and still not get to the core of any one of them...if there IS a core. Well, there IS a core: The core is Christ, which reminds of me of something comedian T.P. Mulrooney said about being an Irish Catholic kid and being sent to a Christian school. There was a sign outside that said “Christ Is the Answer!” His first thought? “Boy, these tests are gonna be easy!” Add to that my obvious habit of running off on tangents (see? two paragraphs, two tangents!) and you can see how focused I am. Oh sure, I could edit myself here on the blog to stay on track, but hey, edit-schmedit! I’ll save my editing for research articles.
Maybe it’s all just a distraction, this feeling we get of being swamped by God’s lessons. Maybe there’s a design there to pull us away from our dedication to Christ. I think our worldly attitudes tend to make things look impossible, or at least so difficult to undertake that we defensively slip back into a place of apathy, or worse yet, blind contentment. I’m inclined to set up camp in that place, and I often do. I remember a friend telling me about his struggles with Christian living, shaking his head in frustration and saying, “it’s just so hard.” My reply was that of course it’s hard. If it was easy, we’d all be disciples. Well, maybe no all of us, but I think the point stands. I mean, if it was easy, there’d be no point in dedicating our very lives to discipleship, setting aside our worldly aspirations to serve God first, and measuring ourselves against a standard we’ll never actually meet. In our heads it’s easy for us to just say, “Well then, it’s futile!” But in our hearts, if our hearts belong to Christ, we can understand the value of that struggle. And when the struggle has such great value, the goal becomes secondary to the struggle. The pastor at my church frequently poses the question to us, are we disciples simply so that we can get into heaven after we die, or are we disciples so that we can show a light in our community while we are alive? ...So, on top of studying and meditating, there’s also stuff to do. Overwhelming? Maybe, but not compared to the staggering accomplishment of our Savior. And here I was thinking I really had my work cut out for me. The real battle, it seems, is to shake off the apathy and take joy in the work the Lord sets before us. God has provided us His law, He has given us an example in His son, and He will provide the means to work in His name. So how will I prioritize? I guess I’ll start with the first step: prayer.
…Ah wait, I thought I was writing about writing. Forgot about that. Well now I wonder: which part of this entry was the tangent?